The 8th European Interdistrict Zonta Seminar
February 8 – 10, 2019 in Tartu, Estonia


Tartu is the second largest town in Estonia where about 100 000 inhabitants live. Tartu is an old town which was founded in 1030. The University of Tartu was founded in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. In Soviet occupation time Tartu was declared a ”closed town” to foreigners, as an air base for bombers was constructed on the Raadi Airfield, in the northeast outskirts of the city. It was one of the biggest military air bases in Eastern Europe and housed intercontinental fighters.

Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the old town center has been renovated and to the former soviet airfield has been built new Estonian National Museum; 350-metre-long glass block ramps rise from the runway. The design of the new building of the Estonian National Museum is made by DGT Architects from Paris. It won the 2016 AFEX Grand Prix for French architecture overseas. On Friday, February 8th you may take a guided walking tour in the old Tartu or visit Tartu Toy Museum. In the afternoon you are invited to visit the Estonian National Museum (ERM) with a guided tour and to attend the Get Together Party at the ERM Restaurant.

The heart and soul of Tartu is without a doubt the Old Town This is the area where a medieval city once stood, but wars and fires, particularly the ’Great Fire’ of 1775, wiped out nearly all signs of that version of Tartu. Most of what you see now is its replacement – an attractive neoclassical ensemble from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

If you’re standing on Town Hall Square, you’ve reached the very heart of Tartu. Since the 13th century, this spot has served as a marketplace, a cultural gathering point, and more recently, a massive outdoor café. Apart from the Town Hall, its most noticeable feature is the somewhat cheeky Kissing Students fountain. This is a relatively recent addition – designed by Mati Karmin and installed in 1998 – but locals have already adopted it as a symbol of the town. The buildings around the square all date from after the 1775 fire. Those on the north side are neo-classical, whereas those on the south side, which was wrecked during World War II, are from the Stalin era. Look carefully and you can still see sickles and hammers in the plaster.